Student Expelled for Unloaded Shotguns in Truck
WILLOWS, Calif. -- The Willows Unified School District board of trustees has expelled a 16-year-old for having unloaded shotguns in his pickup parked just off the Willows High School campus.
The board voted 4-0 Thursday to expel junior Gary Tudesko after the weapons were discovered via scent-sniffing dogs on Oct. 26. Board Vice President Alex Parisio abstained from the discussion and vote because he is related to Tudesko's family.
Expulsion hearings are normally held in closed sessions, but affected students and their parents can request a public hearing.
Susan Parisio defended her son during the 105-minute public hearing at Willows Civic Center. She acknowledged that Tudesko was lazy for not storing the shotguns at home after a morning of bird hunting, but she questioned the district's ability to enforce its policies off Willows High School property.
"My son was not even parked on school property," Parisio said.
Willows High Principal Mort Geivett and other district officials did not appear to dispute that the parking space was off school property, but they cited several justifications. One of them was the legal doctrine of in loco parentis where school officials may act in place of a parent for school functions.
Geivett said the school was responsible for students traveling to and from school as well as during lunch. He said he believed that students should not possess weapons within 1,000 feet of campus.
Geivett said he believed off-campus parking around the school was under the school's jurisdiction, in part because it is primarily used by students. "I'm erring on the safe side of protecting staff and kids," he said.
The incident began on Oct. 26 when scent-sniffing dogs detected something in a pickup on the street north of the tennis courts on West Willow Street. A Willows police officer did a search of the license plate and traced the pickup to Tudesko.
Tudesko came out to the vehicle and said there were two shotguns and shells in the pickup. He opened his vehicle for a search, which revealed the guns on the rear seat as well as a knife with a 3-inch blade. The police held the weapons and the school suspended Tudesko for five days, which was later extended indefinitely until Thursday's hearing.
Geivett said the Education Code requires the school pursue expulsion, when a student is in possession of a firearm, knife or explosive without written permission from the school. He said he was concerned for the safety of students and staff.
"Gary should've known better than to come to campus with guns in his truck," Geivett said.
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